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What to Eat (or Not) for Breakfast to Lose Weight

eating_berries_PSEveryone says breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but what if eating first thing makes your stomach turn? In her book Skinnygirl Solutions, author Bethenny Frankel shares why you should treat it like any other other meal–mindfully–and eat when you feel hungry, not when the clock says you should. Plus, find out what Bethenny typically has for breakfast.

Eating like a naturally thin person starts the moment you wake up. Is your first thought about food? Do you start eating before you’re fully awake? I used to do this because I was obsessed with the idea that people who eat breakfast lose more weight, because I’d read that somewhere. My first thought of the day was always about food, and I decided that if breakfast was the most important meal of the day, like everybody says, then I should eat it. I ate it mindlessly without assessing my own hunger. That’s not the way to start the day like a naturally thin person.

The only rule you need to remember in the morning is this:

Don’t eat until you’re actually hungry.

This can change your whole morning. It might feel wrong to you, but here’s the truth: Breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day. Whatever meal you’re eating in the moment, when you’re genuinely hungry and ready to eat, is the most important meal of the day. It doesn’t matter what time you eat breakfast. It doesn’t even matter if you skip breakfast (unless you know yourself and know you will overeat later without breakfast).


If you’re not hungry: Don’t eat yet. Wait until you’re hungry. Have some coffee or tea, if that sounds good to you. (But don’t overdo it—too much caffeine can spike your insulin, causing excess hunger later.) If you have to get to work, bring something with you for later, like a banana and some Greek yogurt or something more hearty like a PB&J on whole wheat. Keep it in your desk or purse and eat it only when your body tells you it’s ready for food. And if you aren’t hungry until lunch? Have a small, protein-rich snack, like a small handful of nuts or a piece of cheese, to tide you over. I’ll probably catch flak for saying that, but in my opinion, you don’t need to eat breakfast every single day. People say it slows down your metabolism, but I don’t believe that having a handful of nuts at ten rather than having a whole bowl of cereal with milk and fruit at seven will mess with your metabolism. What really messes with your metabolism is bingeing all day, then starving yourself the next day out of guilt.

Just remember that if you know that skipping breakfast, even when you’re not hungry, will result in major overeating at lunch (I see this happen a lot with men in particular), then you need to eat something in the morning. Respect your own tendencies and work with them instead of against them.

If you are hungry: Eat breakfast. Do it deliberately, not randomly. Don’t grab the first thing you see. Take some time to assess what you really want. Are you in the mood for eggs? Pancakes? A granola bar and a glass of milk? Whatever it is, make yourself a nice small plate, sit down, and enjoy your choice. Whether you’re at home, a diner, or a deli, a small portion of what you really feel like eating will make you feel good and satisfied.

Make A Plan
If you don’t want to think about what you want every morning, especially on mornings when you’re in a hurry, it’s fine to have a loose, adaptable plan for yourself that you usually follow. Choose something easy that you like, such as oatmeal or a hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit. On your indecisive days, you won’t waste time trying to figure out what to eat because you can default to your plan. Just remember it’s okay to deviate from your plan when you want something different.

What I Do
Some days, I have pancakes at seven A.M., and some days I have nothing but green juice until about ten A.M., when I finally get hungry. Before I had a baby, I usually slept until about eight o’clock. When I woke up, I would typically have a medium-sized coffee with soy milk. I eased into the day slowly. Around ten A.M., I would often have something light, like a scooped-out toasted whole wheat bagel with a little bit of real butter, or some cottage cheese and fruit.

Now I usually eat breakfast with Bryn, but every day is different. Some days, I’m not hungry. I might have coffee or juice. If I am hungry, I’ll have a small bowl of cereal or a muffin. Bryn and I might go to a diner, or I’ll cook eggs and veggie bacon or make pancakes. On the road, I might pick up oatmeal at Starbucks or, if I’m in the mood, eat half of a muffin from a bakery. Sometimes, all I want is fruit.

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